Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Debra A. Zellner

Committee Member

Phoebe S. Lin

Committee Member

Michael J. Bernstein


Food preferences--Psychological aspects, Food preferences--Moral and ethical aspects


Research has shown that individuals will license indulgent or immoral behavior after engaging in or recalling moral behavior. The purpose of this experiment was to determine whether or not individuals would do this when selecting food items. Participants completed one of two writing tasks, one of which was designed to elicit a licensing effect, before choosing a food item. Afterward, participants completed a scale to determine their restraint type. It was hypothesized that individuals who recalled moral behavior would allow themselves to indulge and choose an unhealthy, high calorie food item over a healthy, low calorie food item. It was also hypothesized that individuals who were attempting to restrict their caloric intake (and were classified as restrained eaters as a result) were more likely to be vulnerable than the average person to the licensing effect. No significant effects of either recalling moral behavior or restraint were found. The potential reasons for these results are discussed, as are ideas for future research.

File Format


Included in

Psychology Commons